By Kolawole Adams
The recent ranking of Adekunle Ajasin University as the best state university in webometrics attracted my attention to this subject. And I believe same news must have done the same for many elsewhere, causing people to wonder why a university in the obscure part of far Ondo State! But I believe excellence, like a gold fish, has no hiding.
The first time I visited Adekunle Ajasin University, located in the rocky but serene part of the northern Ondo State was February, in the year 2015.
Myself and a female colleage were there for a Conference in the Faculty of Arts. We were told of the strides emplaced by the former Vice Chancellor and brother to former governor Olusegun Mimiko. We were also told that the incumbent Vice Chancellor, Professor Amos Igbekele Ajibefun was newly appointed.
We met with him, briefly, in his office, before leaving for the conference venue. In him I saw a humble and affable leader. He displayed an unusual sense of duty and dilligence and the aura around him suggested addition to distinction. He left us with a sense of awe. He spurred us.
At another event recently, I was told by a senior colleague that in exactly three months and six days from now, he would complete his single tenure of five years as Vice Chancellor. How the time flies! But I feel obligated to say a few things about this different man in the interest of the academia, where we all subsribe and belong.
To start with, I must admit that is not a common feat in this part to be repeatedly appointed as head of two higher institutions at various times in the same state.
In Professor Ajibefun’s case, it was even unbroken, he had hardly completed his term as Rector of the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic before the government again found him as best for a greater assignment as Vice Chancellor of AAUA.
As a long standing university teacher, I understand who has experienced different vice chancellors in terms of personality variations and leadership peculiarity, I make bold to say Adekunle Ajasin University is lucky to have a compassionate, hard working and progressive professor Ajibefun as Vice Chancellor.
Professor Igbejeke Ajibefun, like all mortals, is not a perfert person, and the writer is not pretending to portray him as such, yet, elsewhere, Vice Chancellors are demigods and czars who treat surbodinates as servile subjects and vassals.
A colleague on the administrative cadre puts it differently. In his words,” Any university community who has experienced a bad vice chancellor would appreciate a good one.”
That we are giving out this illustrious and accomplished Professor of Agricultural Economics as a model of academic leadership is not to deify him, if anything, it is to tell the world that he has done well as should be ideally given as a standard reffreral in academic governance.
Some of us who are neither from Ondo State nor working therein are sometimes better gauges for measuring these performances. Besides reading from the pages of papers the undertakings of Professor Ajibefun, we have also been privileged to visit and see his works.
Opinions say that was the same way he had a glittering outing at the state polytechnic where he was the Rector for four years and evolved it as the best polytechnic nationally.
Within the short space of five years, and in spite of financial drought, he has been able to improve incrementally on the networks on the institution, raised the bar of academic excellence, sustained merit in admissions and appointments, led a well-motivated workforce who are paid as and when due, produced comparable and competitive graduates and improve on physical facilities.
We can only hope that the government of Ondo State would be so consentious as to find a worthy successor to this incredible performer in the overall interest of the state and country, and so that the sheen of the university would contine unabated.
As I wish that the University continues to thrive and excel in all the facets of its charge, I also pray for increase vigour and strenght for the Vice Chancellor who has been a rare blessing to his community and humanity.